My Mum’s Tiramisu

Today I’d like to share the recipe for a classic Tiramisu, or at least the way I learned how Tiramisu is “supposed” to be made.  The recipe comes from my mum, who I think like me, very much likes it.

We used to like to cook a full menu for family, especially with occasions like birthdays or Easter, or Christmas.  Or even, every evening, preparing dinner, me looking over my dad’s arm because I didn’t reach his shoulder yet (he’s tall, I’m medium).  Hours spent in the kitchen together preparing food, washing and cutting vegetables, and earlier on in the year, researching a menu, trying out new recipes, maybe modifying one or adjusting a few ingredients to give it an original twist.  For me that was always part of the then applicable occasion… The kitchen is a happy place in our family, where we cook together, talk, eat together, and likely this is why for me, this is still an important place in my house. Even when I have friends over, we’re never far from the kitchen (and close to the food!)

Back from memory lane, and back to Tiramisu – one of the few recipes that was never adjusted, was Tiramisu. I think this is because, in it’s complexity and yet simplicity, there is very little to add or change, to make it even better!  My version is thus the one my mum taught me, and the only change from the classic recipe, is that it is a ‘dry’ version, i.e. I don’t really like alcohol with dessert, but that doesn’t mean you cannot add some Kahlua or Tia Maria or Amaretto in, if you like this!

There are also 2 going ways of making this dish, one with a Sabayon base (thus the egg yolks and the sugar blended together over a Bain Marie to heat up the Ruban) and the version I’ll detail here for you, with raw egg whites.  Sometimes heavy cream is also suggested rather then egg whites, but I find that the egg white makes the Tiramisu nice and lights, but heavy cream will make it, well… heavy.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Egg yolks
  • 2 Egg whites
  • 50 gr Sugar (white, granulated)
  • 1 cup of espresso, or strong brewed coffee
  • 18 – 20 Lady fingers (I used the brand Savoiardi)
  • 225 gr Mascarpone
  • Kahlua, Tia Maria or Amaretto (optional)
  • Chocolate Shavings (for decoration)
  • 20-30 gr Cacao powder (for dusting)
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This is what you need to make the magic happen…

Method:

With this dish, you’ll have a few bowls and dishes to wash after, so don’t be surprised to have the dishwasher full!

First we need to separate the yolks and the whites. Carefully break the eggs and split them into 3 yolks (1 large bowl), 2 whites (1 medium bowl in which you can whisk) and an extra egg white (1 bowl for the fridge).  Now mix the sugar with the egg yolks and stir well until the egg yolks turn pale.  This is called a ruban in French, and will be the base of the creamy part of the Tiramisu.  Keep stirring until it kind of folds in threads when you lift up the whisk.  Add the mascarpone to this mix, in parts, and stir well until you have a smooth mass (No lumps!).  When this is done, set this aside.

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Brew a good strong coffee or espresso (if you can, please use espresso), and set this aside to cool down.

In a clean, grease free higher bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. And with stiff, I mean that stiff that you can turn the bowl upside down without the egg whites moving.

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Now we need to gently fold the egg whites under our first mix, with the mascarpone. Again, please do this bit by bit, so we don’t loose too much of the lightness of our mixture. Should you decide to add any alcohol in, please add a shot to the mascarpone mix at this point.

Now we can start the fun bit; the assembly 🙂  Take a large flat bowl and set this before you. Open up the Savoiardi lady fingers and set aside.  Also take your now cold espresso and place this between the biscuits and the mascarpone egg white mix.

The process now is easy:  Take a lady finger and flick/dip very quickly into the espresso.  Please do flick them in and out, we don’t want them to be too soggy and soft with coffee, as the espresso has a strong flavour that will overpower the rest of our yummy cream.  Place in the plate and repeat until the bottom of your plate is covered in lady fingers.

Second step is to add on a thinnish layer of the mascarpone cheese. I aimed to have 3 layers biscuits, 2 layers cream and a good top layer.  Smooth the mascarpone over the biscuits and fill any holes.   Repeat the lady finger process until the mascarpone is covered again.  Add the 2nd layer of mascarpone mix and repeat with the remaining lady fingers.  Now add the last of the mascarpone over the top layer of biscuits and smooth out and evenly, covering any holes and dips.

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Now for the dusting; take a spoon of cacao powder and gently poor this in a sieve held over the Tiramisu.  Shake the cacao powder over the dish, to cover any mascarpone visible so you have a nice chocolatey layer on top.  At this point, do yourself a favour and try not to sneeze… (I did the first time I made this on my own – I had chocolate powder everywhere)

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Now cover your finished dish with foil or cling film and leave in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours.  I usually make this the day before, and leave it overnight, so all ingredients are nice and cool and ‘stiffened’ up.

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I promise it tastes better than it looks…. I’m clearly not very good at cutting this!

Enjoy!

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